Thursday, June 27, 2013

Egypt, Ethiopia square off over new Nile River dam

David Arnold in via Voice of America: Egypt and Ethiopia are doing their best to lower tensions after weeks of increasingly heated rhetoric over a giant Ethiopian dam project that Cairo believes will reduce the flow of water in the Nile River. The foreign ministers of the two countries met at the beginning of the week in Addis Ababa and agreed to hold further talks and review the recommendations from a panel of experts on what's being called the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, or GERD.

Construction on the dam started two years ago on Ethiopia's Abbai, or Blue Nile, river, whose basin accounts for about 75 percent of the water flowing into the lower Nile River. The project is about 20 percent complete and Egyptian officials worry that when it's finished in 2017, it will severely reduce the flow of water through the lower Nile channel and turn the arable parts of their country back into a desert.

A day after Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi visited Addis Ababa earlier this month, Ethiopia diverted the Abbai River's flow temporarily to carry out the next stage of dam construction. Even though the water diversion was a brief, news of the interruption touched off a furor in Cairo. Morsi said Egypt would not tolerate losing "one drop" of Nile water and made thinly veiled threats of military action by saying "all options are open."

The Ethiopians, apparently, were not intimidated. "I don't think they will take that option unless they go mad," said Ethiopia's president, Haile Mariam Desalegn. The foreign ministry in Addis Ababa said construction on the dam would not stop "for a second."...

Blue Nile falls in Ethiopia, shot by CT Snow, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

1 comment:

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